UK Takes Delivery of First Lightning II Fighter Jet
(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued July 19, 2012)
L to R: Royal Navy Fleet Commander, Admiral Sir George Zambellas; Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond; Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton and Chief of Materiel Air, Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson stand in front the of first F-35 fighter delivered to the UK. (MoD photo)
The first of the UK’s next-generation stealth combat aircraft has today been handed over to the MoD.

At a ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond formally accepted the first jet which will be known as Lightning II.

The aircraft are Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

The UK is the first country outside the US to receive these aircraft and Mr Hammond today announced that the MoD intends to order a fourth Lightning II aircraft next year to add to the three already on contract.

The RAF and Royal Navy will conduct flight trials of the jets which will operate from land bases and from sea.

Lightning II will be operational from land based airfields from 2018, when it will also commence flight trials off the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier. (Emphasis added—Ed.) Mr Hammond announced that the jets are likely to be based at RAF Marham, Norfolk, but that no decision has yet been made.

The UK will benefit from interoperability with the US Marine Corps which operates STOVL aircraft similar to the Lightning II.

The multi-role jet features the latest stealth and Intelligence, Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) technology and represents the cutting edge of combat aircraft design. Fifteen per cent of Joint Strike Fighter work is carried out in the UK and over 130 British companies contribute to the supply chain. It is worth over £1Bn to UK industry each year and will support around 25,000 British jobs over the next 25 years.

After the acceptance ceremony, the Defence Secretary toured Lockheed Martin’s production plant with representatives of major UK sub-contractors on the programme, including BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.

Mr Hammond said:

“This hugely capable combat aircraft is now officially British and in the hands of our expert pilots. Highly skilled British aerospace workers are also playing a vital role in the delivery of Lightning II with UK companies involved in 15 per cent of the production and 25,000 British jobs sustained as a result.

“Having taken decisions on the final designs of our new aircraft carriers and balanced the MoD’s budget we can now proceed confidently to regenerating our carrier strike capability with these cutting edge stealth combat aircraft. “

The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, said:

“The delivery of the United Kingdom’s first Lightning II marks the beginning of a new era in our ability to project Air Power from the land or sea. Alongside our increasingly capable combat-proven multi-role Typhoons, the Lightnings provide an additional complimentary capability to our growing Combat-ISTAR force.”

Royal Navy Fleet Commander, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, said:

“Jets at sea offer unmatched persistence and can guarantee the delivery of airpower around the globe. With the advent of Lightning II, UK Defence has its opportunity to maximise the utility of our carriers and this extraordinarily capable aircraft through a range of sea and land basing options. The result will be a strategic capability which will deliver for many decades to come.”


(EDITOR’S NOTE: In the above statement, MoD mentions 2018 as the year in which land-based F-35As will be operational, and when its own F-35B STOVL variants will begin shipboard trials.
This demonstrates a remarkable degree of optimism, as neither the US Air Force nor Lockheed Martin have so far said when their own F-35As will achieve Initial Operational Capability, except that it will be after 2019.
Prudently, Lockheed Martin mentions no dates in its related statement below.)


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United Kingdom Accepts First International Lockheed Martin F-35
(Source: Lockheed Martin; issued July 19, 2012)
FORT WORTH, Texas --- The United Kingdom accepted the first international Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft in a ceremony today with senior representatives of the U.K. Ministry of Defence and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Right Honourable Philip Hammond, U.K. Secretary of State for Defence, and Mr. Frank Kendall, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, represented their governments.

"We are here to celebrate an important 'first' among so many milestones associated with the F-35 program," said Bob Stevens, Lockheed Martin chairman and chief executive officer. "It's fitting that our first delivery to an international partner is to the United Kingdom, because without sustained British innovation over many generations, we would not have an event to celebrate today."

The U.K. was the first of eight international partners to join the F-35 program and plans to acquire the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft.

Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Headquartered in the U.K., BAE Systems brings a rich heritage of capabilities to the F-35 program, including short takeoff and vertical landing experience, advanced lean manufacturing, flight testing and air systems sustainment, and is responsible for the F-35's aft fuselage, fuel system, crew escape and life support systems. The U.K. will play a vital role in the F-35's global production, follow-on development and sustainment over the next 40 years, bringing strong economic benefits to the country.

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th Generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV8-B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries.


Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 120,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation's net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

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